Bethlehem in December

Would Shepherds be watching their

flocks by night Dec. 25th in Bethlehem?


We often hear in objection to the Dec. 25th birth of Christ, that shepherds would not have been watching their flocks by night in the fields near Bethlehem as reported by Luke (Lk. 2:8). This is probably true of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where snow and bitter cold drive men indoors (picture below), but in Bethlehem, Judea, the story is very differnt indeed. Scripture tells us that the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived in tents year-round.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob the heirs of with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city whcih hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Heb. 11:8-10

It was indicitive of Abraham and the patriarch's sojourn in the promised land, that they were nomadic shepherds, dwelling in tents their whole lives (Gen. 12:8; 13:3, 5; 18:1; 24:67; 26:17; 31:25; 33:18; 35:21).  Scripture even relates that Jacob watched his father-in-law's sheep by winter frost at night:

"This twenty years have I been with thee; thy ewes and thy she goats have not cast their young, and the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. That which was torn of beasts I brought not unto thee; I bare the loss of it; of my hand didst thou require it, whether stolen by day, or stolen by night. Thus I was; in the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night; and my sleep departed from mine eyes." Gen. 31:38-40

Here follow pictures of Bethlehem at Christmas. As can be seen, the weather is very mild, and church services are held out-of-doors without winter coats. Following these, there are pictures of a historic 100-year snowfall in Jerusalem, Palestine, and Egypt. Snow and cold are the exception in Judea at Christmas. Shepherds most certainly could have been in the fields Dec. 25th.

Bethlehem in Winter











Christmas day shepherd







Historic snow fall turns Holy Land into the scenes we see in Christmas cards with first flakes for 100 years
  • Snow falls across much of the Middle East as worst blizzard in 60 years hits the region
  • Police block roads into and out of ancient holy city
  • Snowstorm Alexa brings Egypt's main Mediterranean ports to a standstill
  • Temperatures plummet below freezing across Syria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon
  • Concern mounts for plight of two million refugees fleeing Syrian civil war

By Tom Gardner

PUBLISHED: 11:19 EST, 13 December 2013 | UPDATED: 15:38 EST, 13 December 2013


It's a festive scene that's adorned countless Christmas cards... and, for once, the Holy Land actually became a snow covered winter scene.

The ancient city of Jerusalem, which normally basks in fierce heat, was dusted with a light covering of snow during a freak blizzard.

And snow fell on the streets of Egypt for the first time in 112 years as one of the worst winter storms to hit the Middle East in living memory set in.

The rare sight of pristine white precipitation greeted stunned residents of Cairo this morning who took to social media to express their shock at the unsettling weather in the usually sweltering capital.


Icy blast: The Western Wall compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israel, today was covered with snow as temperatures plunge below zero



Frozen: Palestinian worshipers walk near the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem following a snowstorm


Festive: Jerusalem's Old City following a snowstorm, seen from the Mount of Olives, today

The blizzard, which has been named Alexa, forced Jerusalem into lockdown today after more than 50cm of snow was dumped on the region.

The unusual weather system brought travel chaos and disruption to much of the region.

People had to abandon their cars and seek emergency shelter as the snowstorm brought transport to a standstill.

Police set up roadblocks on routes in and out of the ancient city.

Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv was shut earlier this morning and Egypt's main ports on the Mediterranean and the Red Sea remained closed for the third straight day due to bad weather.

Israelis were told over media and public broadcasts today not to enter or leave Jerusalem and some 1,500 people were evacuated from stranded vehicles overnight, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Three emergency centers were set up and medics treated 350 people for cold-related symptoms, Rosenfeld said. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he asked the military for assistance.


Devotion: Amid the snow and icy temperatures, a Palestinian worshipper gets ready to pray in front of the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City


Snow fun: Young Palestinians throw snowballs at the Jaffa Gate at the Old City of Jerusalem, after the worst blizzards in 60 years swept across the region


Worship: An Ultra-Orthodox Jew prays at the the snow-covered compound of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem today



2013 Egypt, Sphinx


Normal winter in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania


Adoration of the Shepherds


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